The new network is here. In some German cities, customers of the mobile service provider Vodafone can already surf at super speed. At least if they have a 5G-enabled smartphone with a 5G mobile phone plan. Most others still have to be patient as it will take at least another year or two for 5G to be available nationwide in Germany. Still, this could be the beginning for something big.
What can 5G do?
What used to take about 6 minutes can now be done with 5G in less than 4 seconds. Only about as long as it takes in the new network to download a video in feature length. At 10 Gb per second, 5G is not only 100 times faster than LTE, but also boasts an ultra-fast response time of a few milliseconds. In this area, people no longer notice delays, data transfers take place virtually in real time. In addition – the mobile phone battery will be thankful – the data communication on the high-speed frequencies requires 90 percent less power consumption.
But 5G can do more! Because it has the thousand-fold capacity of its predecessor, many more users, whether human or machine, can be connected to it. In addition, the new network can be flexibly "split up" for different user groups at any location, for example according to the different data volume requirements. This is particularly exciting for the industry, as it allows the so-called network slicing reserve network areas that enable faster and smoother machine-to-machine communication.
The networking of things
What might "only" seem like a faster and more reliable Internet to the normal user, could have immense consequences for us all. Entire factories that work almost without human intervention are only part of the future scenario.
When everyday things begin to communicate with each other on a grand scale, much of our world will work as if by magic: in smart homes, the heater will automatically tune itself with the automatic windows and the air conditioning. Clothes measure our bodily functions and call the rescue service if they are in danger of death. Autonomous vehicles drive us from A to B, with traffic jams being history. Street lamps and neon signs in smart cities don't turn on in the dark until passers-by approach and then off again when they are gone. And that's just the immediately visible area.
In the city of the not-too-distant future, hundreds of thousands of sensors scan the environment. Sending, processing and receiving the data takes place in real time. Which ensures that the right measures are taken quickly and automatically. Whether in terms of traffic control, energy distribution, public safety, health care, information and service availability – the smart city is building on the new mobile generation in many areas.
New age in communication
Not so long ago, the idea that everyday objects could react to the environment and communicate with each other to fulfill our desires and needs was pure fantasy. With 5G, which makes the Internet of Things (IoT) possible to a large extent, it's about to become normal. But the fifth-generation wireless standard could also change human communication in a way we've long known only from visions of the future.
The power of the new network will also boost technologies such as AR, MR and VR, which rely on the rapid transmission of large amounts of data. The result: in addition to the usual visual formats image and video, soon more and more holograms will populate the net. For example, after Snapchat, Internet giants such as Facebook and Google have entered the third dimension: on Facebook, and more recently Instagram, there's the possibility of using AR effects in posts and to place advertisements with AR. Google, in turn, has begun putting augmented reality content firmly in the search: users in the US who google an animal can now view it, for example, as an animated 3D "life-size" model on their smartphone. We don't expect it to end with animal representations either.
Holograms could also be encountered in everyday life everywhere in the future. Product packaging and outdoor advertising with AR are sporadic already, with 5G everything in the real world could theoretically be enriched with virtual content. As additional information, for advertising purposes, or simply for entertainment. For all devices to recognize the virtual objects, they're anchored in cloud-based 3D maps of the physical world. Such virtual infrastructures are already being used by technology companies such as Space Technologies and 6D.ai.
Rony Abovitz, founder and CEO of the US technology company Magic Leap, even dreams of a "magicverse" in which the entire physical world gets virtual "layers". Each layer would have a different focus, for example, health, entertainment, mobility, etc. This would not only drive and bundle our communication more digitally, but also change it qualitatively. Abovitz on the Magic Leap Blog:
"The Magicverse can provide massive economic amplifiers to communities around the world, erode space and time boundaries, and enable communication in new ways, at fractions of the cost of current physical systems."
This vision is unimaginable with the introduction of 5G. Especially as the technical development of AR glasses and other AR devices is progressing. Or when they become superfluous because AR projectors have learned to show holograms directly in the physical world. One thing is certain, virtual evolution is already underway. So chances are good that the future belongs to holo communication.